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Daily Variations in Spring Break Alcohol and Sexual Behaviors Based on Intentions, Perceived Norms, and Daily Trip Context

Megan E. Patrick, Christine M. Lee

Objective: Given the known risks of alcohol use and sexual behavior for college students on Spring Break, this study was designed to document the behaviors and correlates associated with being on a Spring Break trip on a given day (controlling for average time on a trip). Method: Participants were undergraduate students (n = 261; 55% women) who reported that they planned to go on a Spring Break trip. Web-based survey responses before and after Spring Break documented perceived norms, intentions, and actual behavior on each of the 10 days of Spring Break. Results: Students who went on longer trips, who previously engaged in more heavy episodic drinking, or who had greater pre–Spring Break intentions to drink reported greater alcohol use during Spring Break. Similarly, students with greater pre–Spring Break intentions to have sex, greater perceived norms for sex, or more previous sexual partners had greater odds of having sex. On days students were on trips, they had a greater likelihood of having sex, drinking to higher estimated blood alcohol concentrations, consuming more drinks, and reporting perceived drunkenness than on nontrip days, especially if they had intentions to have sex and drink alcohol (and, for models predicting sexual behavior and drunkenness, had greater perceived norms for sex and drinking). Conclusions: Students who went on Spring Break trips engaged in more risk behaviors. In addition, the context of being on a trip on a given day was associated with increased risk, especially if they had stronger intentions and, in some cases, higher perceived norms. Further research is needed to describe the contexts of Spring Break trips and how to intervene effectively. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 73, 591–596, 2012)